Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Accident. It's good, and that's no accident

Performance: The Accident
Theater: Theater J. 1529 16th Street NW
Metro Stops: Dupont Circle – Red line or U Street/Cardozo-Green line. Directions here.
Genre: Israeli Drama
Cost: $25 tickets for people 25 and under. Hal Price tickets (as low as $10, I think) from Goldstar
Dates: Through March 8
Rating: 3/5 Starving Artists

Earlier this week, Lady AWesome, the AWesome roommate, and two people from LA’s work went to see The Accident, the new Israeli play at Theater J. Overall, I liked it, but there were moments where it felt a little forced.

I think that the thing about a play that begins with an accidental homicide is that you do not need to infuse it with any mock intensity. The drama flows copiously out of such a situation. This was certainly the case for The Accident, so I was having trouble connecting to the material in the moments where it felt like the actors were forcing it. However, the moments where they were really feeling it were excellent. It is important to say that I recognize that we saw the shows in previews and I am certain that the emotion will gel more as the run continues. I felt like the actors (with the notable exception of Jennifer Mendenhall as the matriarch of the story, Niri) were sometimes unable to access the raw intensity of the play and their emotions occasionally felt put on. Those scenes where they felt it, instead of acted it, were by far the most powerful and moving moments of the play. I would love to return in a week or two to see what I know would be an entirely different performance.

It was certainly a fascinating story. The aforementioned accident rips into the lives of two couples and exposes them for what they are. The focus becomes not so much the accident, but the unraveling of the lies of their lives that the accident causes. The unraveling revels them to each other, bare and alone, and they must struggle to reconcile the image of who they thought they were with the discovery of who they now know themselves to be. The set is powerful. The stage is the roadway in which the accident occurred. Furniture is moved in and out to suggest different rooms and locations, but it is all happening on that same strip of road. Thus the action of the show takes place in the road where it begins, as if the characters are unable to escape that moment. Subtle, no?

The script is moving, if not a little obvious. The translator seems to have effectively converted Hillel Mitelpunkt’s Hebrew script, such that the characters are noticeably Israeli, but Americans can easily identify with them. The themes in the script, those of betrayal, love/lust, the plight of migrant workers and aliens, are ones that resonate just as easily with an audience here as with an Israeli one. All this comes together to create an interesting show that is on the verge of fascinating. I am certain that as the run goes on, it will continue to progress into something great. For now, I give it 3 out of 5 starving artists and encourage you to go see it. If you do see it, drop us a line in the comments and let us know how your reactions differed from mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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